Chris wrote in asking about shoe recommendations for the trail.
Last time I went hiking I wore my Nike Free Run’s and got tons of little rocks stuck underneath my shoe; I have boots but they’re uncomfortable. Any good brand/shoe recommendations?
It’s really all about personal preference on sizing, and the activity you’re doing. I’ll go over the two shoes I’ve been using for the past couple seasons. First up, my winter shoes.
I love the Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra 2 GTX Mids. Yes, the naming convention for their line is “ultra” confusing, but apart from that, they’ve served me well. Here are a few of my favorite features.
- Easy to lace - At first, I was a little skeptical that the Quicklace system Solomon uses would come loose after heavy use. To this day, I haven’t had the issue.
- Very lightweight - They’re about a pound, and at the strength to weight ratio, that’s great in my book.
- Durable - I’ve bumped my foot on many things that should have injured me, but the reinforcements Salomon put into parts of this boot, especially around the toe cap, has saved me from pains.
- Water resistant - Although the upper textile is not waterproof, the lining of the boot is. I’ve taken these in rain and snow, and when avoiding big puddles, they’ve always kept me dry.
One thing to consider is they didn’t break in as much as I assumed. They fit pretty true to size, but don’t expect them to stretch much.
I’ve also tried my share of Merrell’s, my favorite being the Trail Glove in their barefoot line. I use these shoes a lot during the summer and spring. Of course, I wouldn’t carry anything too heavy, especially when first starting out, but they really give you a lot of feel for the trail. Here are a few things I like about the Trail Glove.
- Large toebox - Provides plenty of room to spread, giving you more stability when doing more technical hikes or rock scrambling.
- Minimalist without detracting from your image - Don’t get me wrong, I like the Vibram Five-fingers, but sometimes you can’t wear them to a public event unless you want to be noticed. The Merrell’s are a little more stealth in that respect while providing a lot of the same benefits.
- I feel like I’m getting stronger - It’s tough to wear these shoes out the first few times, but after that, I feel much stronger. That gives me a lot of confidence in my actions on the trail.
- They are very breathable - That’s a nice feature, especially during the warmer months in Las Vegas.
- They collapse and pack very well - Twist them, fold them, and toss them in your bag. They weigh 7oz, so don’t worry about packing if you need them wherever you’re going.
For a good starter boot, I’d take a look at Salomon’s line. They’re a little expensive, but if you use them on a regular basis, they’re well worth the money.
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